One toll hike may not be enough

Two more fare increases loom for drivers crossing the Golden Gate Bridge despite the recent decision to increase tolls by $1.

The toll hike approved last week means cash-paying drivers will shell out $6 to cross the Golden Gate Bridge, and that price could soon rise to $8.

Citing the need to make up a projected five-year, $91 million operating budget shortfall, the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District agreed to a $1 increase on cash and FasTrak tolls. The new rates may take effect in September.

A separate proposal by the bridge district to raise cash tolls by $1 during busy travel times is currently under discussion.

Separate from the bridge district — but still affecting drivers crossing the iconic span — is a third plan to charge another $1 fee on the seismically unsafe Doyle Drive. That plan is currently being considered by San Francisco transportation officials.

“We are still investigating many options to rebuild Doyle Drive, including congestion pricing,” said Joe Arellano, spokesman for Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Because the toll on Doyle Drive would only affect southbound drivers, North Bay politicians have strongly opposed the idea, calling it a “Marin commuter tax.”

The extra fare on Doyle Drive is the only way to generate much-needed funding to rebuild the aging expanse, said Tilly Chang, deputy director of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, which is leading the effort to restore the 72-year-old structure.

The Doyle Drive project has a current price tag of $1.01 billion, although the SFCTA is investigating ways to reduce the cost. So far, $640 million has been identified for the rebuild.

“We’re looking at a whole host of options to make up the shortfall,” Chang said. “But a Doyle Drive toll is the most effective possibility to raise funds.”

A $1 toll on Doyle Drive would generate about $18 million a year, Chang said. Any plan for a toll on the approach would have to be approvedby state legislators.

Golden Gate Bridge district officials will meet Wednesday with technical advisors from the U.S. Department of Transportation to discuss the components of a congestion-reducing toll.

Earlier this year, the bridge district submitted two proposals for higher tolls during peak travel times. One option would charge both FasTrak and cash users an extra $1, while the other would increase cash prices by $1 and FasTrak costs by 50 cents.

The Department of Transportation, which required that the bridge district implement a congestion toll in order to save the Bay Area region $158 million in federal grant money, balked at the proposal, saying it would not affect driver behavior enough to reduce traffic.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

Bay Area NewsLocalTransittransportation

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Agnes Liang, who will be a senior at Mission High School, is running for one of the two student representative seats on the San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Turbulent year on school board leaves student delegates undeterred

Around this time last year, Shavonne Hines-Foster and Kathya Correa Almanza were… Continue reading

(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Three people killed in SF shootings in less than 24 hours

San Francisco police were scrambling Saturday to respond to a series of… Continue reading

Muni operator Angel Carvajal drives the popular boat tram following a news conference celebrating the return of the historic F-line and subway service on Friday, May 14, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Mayor, transit officials celebrate return of Muni service

Mayor London Breed and city transit officials gathered Friday to welcome the… Continue reading

San Francisco police investigated the scene of a police shooting near Varney Place and Third Street on May 7. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFPD shooting may prompt new body camera rules for plainclothes cops

Police chief says incident ‘should not have happened’

Governor Gavin Newsom speaks at a news conference about a $12 billion package bolstering the state’s response to the homelessness crisis at the Kearney Vista Apartments on May 11, 2021 in San Diego, California. (K.C. Alfred/The San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS)
Newsom promises sweeping change in California’s $267-billion budget

John Myers Los Angeles Times California would embark on the most ambitious… Continue reading

Most Read